Monday, January 6, 2014

Israel Was a Mistake. By Richard Cohen.

Hunker Down With History. By Richard Cohen. Washington Post, July 18, 2006. Also here.

. . . No, It’s Survival. By Richard Cohen. Washington Post, July 25, 2006. Also here.

Was Israel a Mistake? By Andrew Sullivan. The Atlantic, June 9, 2010.

A history lesson. Israel Matzav, July 18, 2006.

A geography lesson. Israel Matzav, July 25, 2006.

Andrew Sullivan: “Israel was a mistake.” Israel Matzav, June 10, 2010.

Cohen [Hunker Down]:

The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.

This is why the Israeli-Arab war, now transformed into the Israeli-Muslim war (Iran is not an Arab state), persists and widens. It is why the conflict mutates and festers. It is why Israel is now fighting an organization, Hezbollah, that did not exist 30 years ago and why Hezbollah is being supported by a nation, Iran, that was once a tacit ally of Israel’s. The underlying, subterranean hatred of the Jewish state in the Islamic world just keeps bubbling to the surface. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and some other Arab countries may condemn Hezbollah, but I doubt the proverbial man in their street shares that view.

There is no point in condemning Hezbollah. Zealots are not amenable to reason. And there’s not much point, either, in condemning Hamas. It is a fetid, anti-Semitic outfit whose organizing principle is hatred of Israel. There is, though, a point in cautioning Israel to exercise restraint – not for the sake of its enemies but for itself. Whatever happens, Israel must not use its military might to win back what it has already chosen to lose: the buffer zone in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip itself.

Hard-line critics of Ariel Sharon, the now-comatose Israeli leader who initiated the pullout from Gaza, always said this would happen: Gaza would become a terrorist haven. They said that the moderate Palestinian Authority would not be able to control the militants and that Gaza would be used to fire rockets into Israel and to launch terrorist raids. This is precisely what has happened.

It is also true, as some critics warned, that Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon was seen by its enemies – and claimed by Hezbollah – as a defeat for the mighty Jewish state. Hezbollah took credit for this, as well it should. Its persistent attacks bled Israel. In the end, Israel got out and the United Nations promised it a secure border. The Lebanese army would see to that. (And the check is in the mail.)

All that the critics warned has come true. But worse than what is happening now would be a retaking of those territories. That would put Israel smack back to where it was, subjugating a restless, angry population and having the world look on as it committed the inevitable sins of an occupying power. The smart choice is to pull back to defensible – but hardly impervious – borders. That includes getting out of most of the West Bank – and waiting (and hoping) that history will get distracted and move on to something else. This will take some time, and in the meantime terrorism and rocket attacks will continue.

In his forthcoming book, The War of the World, the admirably readable British historian Niall Ferguson devotes considerable space to the horrific history of the Jews in 19th- and 20th-century Europe. Never mind the Holocaust. In 1905 there were pogroms in 660 different places in Russia, and more than 800 Jews were killed – all this in a period of less than two weeks. This was the reality of life for many of Europe’s Jews.

Little wonder so many of them emigrated to the United States, Canada, Argentina or South Africa. Little wonder others embraced the dream of Zionism and went to Palestine, first a colony of Turkey and later of Britain. They were in effect running for their lives. Most of those who remained – 97.5 percent of Poland’s Jews, for instance – were murdered in the Holocaust.

Another gifted British historian, Tony Judt, wraps up his recent book Postwar with an epilogue on how the sine qua non of the modern civilized state is recognition of the Holocaust. Much of the Islamic world, notably Iran under its Holocaust-denying president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stands outside that circle, refusing to make even a little space for the Jews of Europe and, later, those from the Islamic world. They see Israel not as a mistake but as a crime. Until they change their view, the longest war of the 20th century will persist deep into the 21st. It is best for Israel to hunker down.

Cohen [No, It’s Survival]:

If by chance you have the search engine LexisNexis and you punch in the words “Israel” and “disproportionate,” you run the risk of blowing up your computer or darkening your entire neighborhood. Just limiting the search to newspapers and magazines of the past week will turn up “more than 1,000 documents.”  Israel may or may not be the land of milk and honey, but it certainly seems to be the land of disproportionate military response – and a good thing, too.

The list of those who have accused Israel of not being in harmony with its enemies is long and, alas, distinguished. It includes, of course, the United Nations and its secretary general, Kofi Annan. It also includes a whole bunch of European newspapers whose editorial pages call for Israel to respond, it seems, with only one missile for every one tossed its way. Such neat proportion is a recipe for doom.

The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that it makes you wonder if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general. Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness. For Israel, a small country within reach, as we are finding out, of a missile launched from any enemy’s back yard, proportionality is not only inapplicable, it is suicide. The last thing it needs is a war of attrition. It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights.

Israel has been in dire need of such deterrence ever since it pulled out of Lebanon in 2000 and, just recently, the Gaza Strip. In Lebanon, it effectively got into a proportional hit-and-respond cycle with Hezbollah. It cost Israel 901 dead and Hezbollah an announced 1,375, too close to parity to make a lasting difference. Whatever the figures, it does not change the fact that Israeli conscripts or reservists do not think death and martyrdom are the same thing. No virgins await Jews in heaven.

Gaza, too, was a retreat. There are many ways to mask it but no way to change the reality. The government of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon concluded that Israel was incapable of controlling a densely populated area full of people who hated the occupation. Israel will in due course reach the same conclusion when it comes to the West Bank, although the present war has almost certainly set back that timetable. The fact remains that for Israel to survive, it must withdraw to boundaries that are easily defensible and hard to breach.

It’s clear now that those boundaries – a wall, a fence, a whatever – are immaterial when it comes to missiles. Hezbollah, with the aid of Iran and Syria, has shown that it is no longer necessary to send a dazed suicide bomber over the border – all that is needed is the requisite amount of thrust and a warhead. That being the case, it’s either stupid or mean for anyone to call for proportionality. The only way to ensure that babies don’t die in their cribs and old people in the streets is to make the Lebanese or the Palestinians understand that if they, no matter how reluctantly, host those rockets, they will pay a very, very steep price.

Readers of my recent column on the Middle East can accuse me of many things, but not a lack of realism. I know Israel’s imperfections, but I also exalt and admire its achievements. Lacking religious conviction, I fear for its future and note the ominous spread of European-style anti- Semitism throughout the Muslim world – and its boomerang return to Europe as a mindless form of anti-Zionism.

Israel is, as I have often said, unfortunately located, gentrifying a pretty bad neighborhood. But the world is full of dislocated peoples, and we ourselves live in a country where the Indians were pushed out of the way so that – oh, what irony! – the owners of slaves could spread liberty and democracy from sea to shining sea. As for Europe, who today cries for the Greeks of Anatolia or the Germans of Bohemia?

These calls for proportionality rankle. They fall on my ears not as genteel expressions of fairness, some ditsy Marquess of Queensberry idea of war, but as ugly sentiments pregnant with antipathy toward the only democratic state in the Middle East. After the Holocaust, after 1,000 years of mayhem and murder, the only proportionality that counts is zero for zero. If Israel’s enemies want that, they can have it in a moment.

Who’s to Blame? In Media, Palestinians Avoid Responsibility. By Barry Rubin.

Who’s to Blame? In Media, Palestinians Avoid Responsibility. By Barry Rubin. PJ Media, January 2, 2014. Also at the Jerusalem Post.

Why Is There Really No Palestinian State?: The 1-State Solution. By Barry Rubin. PJ Media, January 3, 2014.

Rubin [Who’s to Blame?]:

The presentation of the Palestinian Authority’s arguments is pitiful. Take, for example, the December 25, 2013, New York Times op-ed by Ali Jarbawi, “The Coming Intifada.”
These days, life appears to be going along as normal for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Appearances can be deceptive, however. Prior to the 1987 intifada, too, things appeared to be normal – until they exploded, much to everyone’s surprise. But no one should be surprised if a new intifada erupts in the next few months. Many experts, even those within the Israeli security apparatus, like the former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, are predicting it.
Note that this is supposed to be the victimization argument. Thus, even if Palestinians refused the UN Partition Plan (1947) as well as Camp David (2000) and don’t even pay their electric bills, they are nonetheless eternal victims; their problem does not have anything to do with their actions.
Actually, ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan did not predict an intifada. He said it was possible that an intifada could occur. In fact, the Mossad report said that it was quite possible that an intifada would not occur. Dagan was thus misquoted, and an intifada is not definite.
“We Palestinians are living through the worst situation in years. And, despite surface appearances of normal, mundane, routine everyday life under occupation, four significant factors have begun to interact that may disrupt the seemingly stable status quo,” wrote Jarbawi.
Indeed, it is certain that the conditions of the Palestinians have not improved over time – despite having received billions of dollars in aid, much of which was stolen or wasted.
And if they truly are in the worst situation in 50 years, who is to blame? The situation of the Palestinians is due to decisions made by Palestinian rulers, negotiators and terrorists.
The first, and most potent [factor], is the collapse of any hope that the occupation will ever end and Palestinians will attain their freedom and independence. This hope had allowed Palestinians to endure the daily injustices of occupation in the expectation of a better future. It is this same hope that led them to support negotiations with Israel and the idea of a two-state solution.
Again, this is an extremely selective view of the situation over the past half-century. For example, “The Palestinians’ strategic mistake was to think that conceding 78 percent of the land of historical Palestine in 1993 would be enough.” Note the subtlety here, as the author is in fact hinting that the Palestinians should have demanded a one-state solution.
The peace negotiations (1993-2000) were based on the premise that there would be a two-state solution. “It didn’t occur to them that Israel wanted to split this remaining land with them, leaving them with – in the best of cases – a state of leftovers. And the price that is being demanded for this state is so exorbitant that the Palestinian Authority cannot sell it, nor can the Palestinians accept it.”
In fact, the “exorbitant” price for the Palestinians consisted of the recognition of a Jewish state in exchange for the recognition of an Arab state, the cessation of terrorist attacks on Israel, and other similar conditions. Yet in the previous month alone there were at least five murderous attacks on Israelis, a bomb on a bus within Israel, a border attack against Israel from Gaza, and the – especially creative – effort of a member of the PA security forces who had requested to be treated for an eye injury in Israel, intending to use that humanitarian gesture as an opportunity to commit a terror attack on an Israeli hospital.
Every day, there are verbal attacks on Israel as well. In other words, Israel is only offered peace as a propaganda measure.
“The promised Palestinian state will be nothing but a shadow entity completely ruled by Israel,” Jarbawi continues. Remember that if the Gaza Strip is being included in the 22% allegedly offered to Palestinians, Gaza is not controlled by the PA . Therefore the PA has no authority to be negotiating about Gaza and Hamas is not ready to accept Israel under any conditions.
Meanwhile, another op-ed, “Israel’s Jim Crow Treatment of Palestinians Continues” by Ahmed Tibi in The Hill – a publication that is widely read by Congressional staff – claims that in the negotiations on a two-state solution Israel is subjecting Palestinians to “‘Jim Crow’ treatment.” In other words, Tibi’s claim is that the problem is not a conflict between two national groups, but rather a systematic racist one, in which Palestinians are always the victim.
Note that since 1994, Palestinians have had self-government and have voted to determine who would rule in the West Bank and Gaza. After two decades of Palestinian selfrule, including its own armed forces and economy, and after having received billions of dollars in aid, Tibi is arguing that the Palestinians should never be held responsible for ruling themselves.
In a recent poll, two-thirds of Jewish Israelis agreed that they would hear the Palestinian narrative in school. Can you imagine the opposite? Of course not. Some years ago, I actually lectured at a Palestinian university and apparently my affiliation was omitted from the syllabus.
Despite 50 years of cross-border terrorist attacks against Israel, missiles fired against Israel, attempts of boycotts against Israel, and failure to pay Israel for providing electricity to the Palestinian territories, The New York Times article claims, “The Authority’s financial insolvency is creating more problems for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, especially the young.” If a PA government that has existed for two decades wants a situation in which stability is impossible, how can the virtual state of war be blamed on Israelis? Note that when Israel withdrew from the Gaza settlements in 2005, the equipment that was left behind was either stolen or broken by Palestinians. And who started the rocket wars? For 50 years, Palestinian attacks and victims have been bragged about.
The basic construction of the argument is this: We fought and attacked Israelis and yet throughout the years, only the Israelis were responsible for our suffering. How can the PA make peace with Israel? How credible can it be? After two decades of self-rule, Palestinian public figures can say that Israelis don’t want peace and that Jews subject Palestinian to Jim Crow treatment, yet Israelis and Jews say nothing of the kind and yet are condemned as horrible oppressors and racists.

Another Failed Revolution Against Capitalism. By Andres Oppenheimer.

Mexico’s Indian rebels — isolated and poorer. By Andres Oppenheimer. Miami Herald, January 6, 2014.

Recognize Israel to Achieve Peace. By Steve Huntley.

Recognize Israel to achieve peace. By Steve Huntley. Chicago Sun-Times, January 6, 2014.


The Palestinians, no doubt with the support of their Arab allies, are refusing in peace negotiations to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. Hmm. They never seem to have an issue with the Jewish nature of Israel when denouncing it. The term “Zionist entity” comes to mind.
During the current round of American-sponsored peace talks, Secretary of State John Kerry, to his credit, has pressed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland. In an interview with a London-based Arabic newspaper, the chief Palestinian negotiator revealed that Abbas had written President Barack Obama declaring that “we will not be able to accept Israel as a Jewish state.”
In an interview last year with a Jordanian newspaper reported by a Hezbollah news service, Abbas referred to Israel as “the Zionist entity.” It certainly wasn’t the first time Abbas or other Palestinian leaders had used the word Zionist, an expression of Jewish nationalism. His ambassador to Egypt repeated the term in a lecture a few months ago in which he also called Israel “the real and clear enemy.”
The phrase “Zionist entity” is a staple of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim media and propaganda. And this is when they are being, by their standards, diplomatic. Most Palestinian propaganda is abhorrent. For example, on the November anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death, a Palestinian TV children’s program had a young girl saying, “The Jews poisoned him and I hate them very much.” Out of the mouths of babes comes lying Palestinian sewage.
Nor do Palestinians have any trouble acknowledging the Jewish heart of Israel in their terrorism. Rockets are aimed at Jewish towns like Sderot. You don’t hear about Hamas and other terrorist groups picking Arab villages in Israel as targets for their crude missiles.
The murderers and thugs who waged Arafat’s terror war during the last decade against Israeli civilians, including women, children and the elderly, made sure their victims were Jewish. They exploded a bomb at a disco frequented by Jewish teenagers. No known hangout for Arab Israeli youth was attacked. A Jewish religious feast, not a Muslim one, was the occasion for one notable bloodbath. Bombs were detonated on buses on routes carrying Jewish commuters.
No, it’s only when it comes to making peace that Abbas and the Palestinians have a problem admitting that Israel is the Jewish state. The reason is simple: Abbas hasn’t given up the Arab dream of wiping “the Zionist entity” off the map.
In his letter to Obama, Abbas repeats the Palestinian demand for a “right of return” to Israel of Palestinians who left the country during the 1948 war and of their descendants. That would be a deluge of millions of Palestinians that would indeed mean Israel would not be a Jewish state. This demographic bomb would be Abbas’ way of waging war by other means.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will end only when the Arab and Muslim world truly wants it to end and recognizes the permanence of the Jewish homeland.

Rolling Stone’s Anti-Capitalist Message. By Jesse A. Myerson.

Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For. By Jesse A. Myerson. Rolling Stone, January 3, 2014.

Jesse A. Myerson Twitter.

Jesse Myerson throws down: five ideas that (may?) represent the left wing of the possible. By Kathleen Geier. Washington Monthly, January 4, 2014.

Jesse Myerson, Occupy “Leader” Turned Far-Left Rolling Stone “Journalist,” Explains It All. By Tom Blumer. NewsBusters, January 4, 2014.

Sorry, Rolling Stone, Millennials Won’t Fall For Those Reforms. By Maura Pennington. Forbes, January 5, 2014.

A millennial’s Rolling Stone rant offers up some tired old “solutions.” By Jonah Goldberg. Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2014. Also at National Review Online.

In defense of Rolling Stone Millennial writer Jesse Myerson. By Emmett Rensin. Los Angeles Times, January 8, 2014.

Rolling Stone article on economic reforms sparks debate. Video. By Ben Shapiro with Megyn Kelly. The Kelly File. Fox News, January 6, 2014. YouTube. YouTube.

Is it Communism if conservatives support it? Interview with Jesse Myerson. Video. All In with Chris Hayes. MSNBC, January 7, 2014.

Rolling Stone Writer Who Backs “Full Communism” Defends Piece on MSNBC. By Noah Rothman. Mediaite, January 8, 2014.

Rolling Stone columnist pushing socialist reforms defends piece on MSNBC. By Melissa Quinn. Red Alert Politics, January 8, 2014.

Winds of Change Still Blowing Through Groves of Academe. By Walter Russell Mead.

Winds of Change Still Blowing Through Groves of Academe. By Walter Russell Mead. The American Interest, January 3, 2014.

Yes, Academia, Winter Is Still Coming. By Walter Russell Mead and staff. The American Interest, January 6, 2014.

Can’t Get Tenure? Then Get a Real Job. By Megan McArdle. Bloomberg, January 3, 2014.

The MOOC Fraud. By Jakub Grygiel. The American Interest, December 19, 2013. From the January/February 2014 issue.

Are Virtual Labs the Next Step for MOOCs. By Walter Russell Mead and staff. The American Interest, January 6, 2014.

Winter Is Coming, and Humanities Profs Can’t Wish It Away. By Walter Russell Mead and Staff. The American Interest, January 14, 2014.

Another Reason Not to Get a Ph.D. By Walter Russell Mead and Staff. The American Interest, January 17, 2014.

A New Course: Converting a Passion for History into a Private Sector Career. By Joshua Wolff. AHA Perspectives on History, January 2014.

Misplaced Priorities in Academia: A Tale of Two Pictures. By Jonathan Marks. Commentary, January 19, 2014.